WHY BREATHE™

By changing your breathing you will be able to control stress. Not let it control you!

-- Dr. Belisa Vranich

Sometimes the most effective things are the most simple.

We breathe over 20,000 times a day, but 90% of us are doing it wrong. 

Breathing is the only part of the nervous system that we can control, so learning how to breathe will help you manage stress and overwhelm anytime, anywhere, and it is FREE!

Here are some of the benefits of breathing well:

  • Improves the digestive system
  • Enhances lung function (better gas exchange)
  • Increase in muscle performance
  • Reduces neck and shoulder pain
  • Improves heart health
  • Lower stress levels
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Regulates the nervous system

Vertical breathing (aka chest or apical breathing) is when you breathe using the auxiliary breathing muscles high in your chest, often leading to overuse of the neck and shoulder muscles. Our bodies are not intended to breathe all the time vertically, and when we do, we pay the price.

Effects of vertical breathing:

    • ⬆️ cortisol (stress hormone), neck and shoulder pain, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, digestive problems 
    • ⬇️ immunity

“Belly” breathing (otherwise known as abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing) allows us to make use of the primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm. This is the way the body is designed to breathe and (according to Dr. Belisa Vranich) is anatomically congruous and biomechanically sound. In other words, our body wants to breathe this way. 

By breathing using our primary breathing muscles, we capture the highest amount of oxygen into the densest, the most oxygen-rich portion of our lungs (the lower part of the lungs). This also relieves strain on our shoulders and backs by giving our auxiliary breathing muscles a break. 

Belly breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is calming and restorative. 

Diaphragmatic “belly” breathing will help:

  • Regulate the nervous system: breath low and slow to calm our thoughts and body
  • unexplained breathlessness and breathing discomfort
  • asthma and chronic lung complaints
  • digestive issues
  • snoring and sleep apnea
  • poor breathing patterns and habits
  • anxiety disorders
  • over breathing
  • sports performance

Breathing is both voluntary and involuntary. This means that our habits play a role in how we breathe, and without awareness of these habits, our breathing can become inefficient and dysfunctional.

If breathing becomes dysfunctional, your health suffers. We are all born with a healthy breathing style, but many of us lose this style and adopt unhealthy and inefficient breathing habits. The goal of The Breathing Class™ is to re-learn how to breathe optimally. 

As Dr. Belisa Vranich states, 

“Our bodies know how to breathe this way. It wants to breathe this way.”

The Breathing Class™ is for children over five years old, families, groups, businesses, or organizations who want to improve their life one breath at a time.  

Or for anyone who experiences any of the following:

  • neck/shoulder pain
  • low stamina/endurance
  • brain fog
  • chronic stress /anxiety
  • back pain
  • low energy
  • high blood pressure
  • acid reflux
  • digestive issues
  • sleep troubles
  • exercises-induced asthma

Breathing may not be the solution in itself, but is an excellent place to start!

The first step is to educate yourself so that you can build awareness of your own breathing habits. Children often model after their parents or caregivers, so working to improve breathing habits together is your best chance of success. The goal is to build this simple practice into the daily routine (i.e., bedtime).

Here is an outline of a typical 60-90 minute coaching session

  • Introduction/Overview (5 minutes)
  • Determine your breathing style (10 minutes)

This is a functional measurement of your breathing style based on two things:

  1. LOM-location of movement (where is there movement during inhalation and exhalation)
  2. ROM-range of motion 

We will discuss your breathing style and develop a customized plan to improve your breathing habits. You will learn how to do your measurement so that you can track your progress.

When you breathe into your chest (vertically), your body feels under attack (fight or flight), and the sympathetic nervous system takes over. This puts in an alert state all day long, creating stress. When you breathe vertically, you have less control over your stress response. 

Alternatively, when we breathe low and slow (horizontally) into the belly, the vagus nerve immediately signals the parasympathetic system to rest and digest. This gives you more control over your reactions and calms the mind and body.  You can use low and slow belly breathing throughout the day to interrupt the stress cycle.

First of all, we are all born with an anatomically perfect breath. We use our diaphragm without bracing or feeling self-conscious for several years before bad habits set-in.  Watch your dog or a child under 5-years old, and you will see a healthy breathing pattern. 

Dr. Belisa Vranich completed a study of 158 children (ages 2-11) and found that by age 5 ½, dysfunctional breathing patterns begin to emerge. Teaching kids at a young age will give them the tools to self-regulate and breathe with understanding and awareness to prevent those bad habits from setting in.

Some of the reasons this happens are:

  • Starting school
  • Sitting longer
  • Stop rolling on the floor
  • Wearing backpacks
  • Their social life increases (or not)
  • Homework/testing (stress)
  • Comparisons (self-conscious)
  • They mimic parents
  • Stethoscope at the doctor’s office
  • Tight clothes

Can you remember or relate to any of these habits or myths from when you were young?

According to Dr. Belisa Vranich in Breathing for Warriors, Your biggest enemy is perceived fatigue, which often comes from undertrained breathing muscles. Stronger breathing muscles mean more “fuel, “better endurance, and conditioning (separate from cardio, which works out the heart).

In other words, you must work and strengthen your breathing muscles separately from your sport for optimal performance.

There is a psychological element of breathing that directly affects your emotions. Breathing is a bridge linking body and mind and is the connection that can be activating, calming, or cathartic.  

So this means that how we breathe can affect the way we feel. 

All breathing classes are held online. 

With my elementary education background, I have always been motivated to help youth reach their fullest potential. After being introduced to yoga, breathing, and mindfulness, I saw a perfect vehicle to help kids thrive in an over-stimulated world. This is what ultimately led me to become a BREATHE™ coach.  Breathing is something we all do, is with us all the time, and is a FREE resource we can use anytime. The key is to learn how to use this efficiently and effectively.  My mission is to help kids and families learn how to breathe well to have this resource with them wherever they go.

Certifications/Credentials:

  • MA in Education
  • RYT-200 (Registered Yoga Teacher)
  • Yoga Alliance member
  • BREATHE™ Coach (under Dr. Belisa Vranich)
  • Breathing for Warriors (breathing for athletes and coaches)
  • Yoga Sculpt Instructor
  • Yoga 4 Teens Instructor
  • Yoga Calm® Youth Instructor
  • Trauma-informed yoga and instructional practices
  • CPR AED certified
  • Licensed and Insured for Liability

As the founder of The Breathing Class™ and author of  Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health, Dr. Belisa Vranich shares how the brain, the nervous system, and breathing all work together. As a clinical psychologist, author, and public speaker, she has educated people nationwide about dysfunctional breathing and its effects on the body and mind. The method focuses on the mechanics and psychology of breathing styles and habits. 

After years of research and case studies, she has created an easy to follow program to help individuals return to their natural and optimal breathing style. Using a functional measurement of your breathing and targeted exercises, people can improve their breathing habits and strengthen the breathing muscles. You will get measured results showing your progress!

Yes!  As an athlete, fatigue is your worst enemy.  The Breathing Class will help you breathe efficiently followed by strengthening the breathing muscles to help you breathe easier and perform longer and harder with less effort.  

Your breathing muscles fatigue just like any other muscles in your body.  

We will train them separately to:

  • gain maximum efficiency with minimal effort
  • optimize oxygen saturation when the system is anatomically congruous
  • decrease recovery times due to higher efficiency
  • increase ribcage mobility and flexibility 
  • relieve excess tension

Go to the services page on this website and register for your session with me. Or you are always welcome to reach out with questions or concerns anytime at stephanie@balancingelephants.com

Why Learn How to Breathe Well?

  • It is the link to the mind and body that can be the catalyst to how your emotional state
  • Poor breathing habits magnify over a lifetime taking a toll on health and happiness. Many people are unaware that they have been stuck in bad breathing habits for weeks, months, or even years.
  • It can be taught to anyone
  • It is accessible
  • It is free
  • It can be done anywhere at anytime
  • It strengthens the immune system
  • It stimulates movement & circulation